When people in our mobile, placeless society, more to a new location, they generally look for a place to live that is safe, has good schools, has conveniences of various services, and is aesthetically
pleasing. I was wondering what you think “home” possesses in addition to these features?
I am not much of expert on this, but here was my attempt at an answer:
Empodocles: You ask about what might be the characteristics that people look for when they search for a new home. Great question. It seems to me that most of us look for the very things you mention when we think of “home”–good schools, close to shopping, a nice neighborhood, and safeness. These are all reasonable things to want in a home. But I wonder, when does the place where one lives truly become “home?” Is “home” really possible in such a geographically mobile society, or are we all destined for some degree of homelessness? It seems to me that finding a “home” requires an investment in the people of a particular community. It requires showing love to neighbors, civic engagement, even loyalty. It requires not only showing up at the high school girls basketball games, school plays, PTA gatherings, community picnics and zoning board meetings, but really wanting to be there. In other words, having a home takes time…and work. It is something that might even take generations to cultivate. I have lived in the same place for seven years and I am not there yet, but I like to think I am getting close.
Today I think my family took a step closer to finding a home. This morning we had our annual back yard Easter egg hunt. Every year my wife invites our neighbors and their children over to our house to hunt for plastic eggs filled with Easter candy. Even older neighbors whose children who have grown and moved away arrive early and help me hide the eggs. It is not much, and only lasts for about forty-five minutes, but I have to believe it is a means of building social capital and working toward some sense of “home.”